Luanne Rice is an author whose easy writing style is peppered with compassion, just the way I like it. At a huge discount fair in a mall in Delhi, I stumbled across some of her novels. I thought, why not, the covers and the titles look so homely, why don't I read what's in them?
Her novel, Silver Bells, is a simple story of a Christmas tree man from Nova Scotia. His name is Christy. He loves growing these trees and works very hard to make a living for his two kids, Danny (a.k.a Harry Houdini) and Bridget. Despite the weather shocks that can destroy his work in lightning speed, Christy lives to sell these trees in 'uptown' New York where the rich are miserable but believe that buying expensive things can make them much happier. But his son, Danny, has a sharp, intelligent mind. He wants to make a difference to help his father. He wants to study and follow his big dreams in New York, the city that can make dreams come true. His father fears for these big dreams, the way parents do when they know their kids are being unrealistic, and stops Danny from studying.
Imagine having big dreams and being restricted from pursuing them. Imagine wanting the best for your children, working hard for them and not even realizing that time flies by and you haven't even accomplished a precious bond with them. The rush and hectic pace of city life is truly a double edged sword, making us unaware that time is slipping by and so are our loved ones.
Following a scuffle between father and son, Danny runs away from home. Christy's repentance, love and search for his dear son is what the book is mostly about. In comes Catherine, the beautiful, wealthy, sophisticated woman who feels deeply for Danny as much as she feels for the loss of her husband. Catherine's love transforms not just the son but his family too. She brings the family together and makes the Christmas season come alive for all of them and for us, the readers. She stands out as a character that you and I would yearn to meet, sit across the table and enjoy a coffee with.
What I like about Luanne Rice's writing is that it is a simple plot, one that readers can relate to instantly. In this book, the seasons of Christmas comes alive through Christmas trees that shed their magic on the readers.
An excerpt that is beautifully penned by Luanne Rice: "All summer long, the trees had grown tall and full, roots deep in the rich island soil, branches yearning toward the golden sun. The salt wind had blown in from the east, gilding the pine needles silver. Everyone knew the best Christmas trees came from the Nova Scotia, where the stars hung low in the sky. It is said that starlight lodged in the branches, the northern lights charged the needles and the magic. Nova Scotia trees were made hardy by the sea and luminous by the stars."
I loved the way the novel ended, too. Its ending tinkles like this:
"The city lights sparkled down on the street, the sidewalks, the stonework, the silver bells, on Christy Byrne and Catherine Tierney - the tree man from the north country and the librarian from the big city. The snow fell, and the bells of Christmas began to sing."
A perfect ending for a perfect season. Isn't it?